Survival of the Fittest

Surviving Litquake okay? Tonight I'll be at Varnish Fine Art, 77 Natoma Street, at 7 p.m., listening to original short stories on the theme of “Survival of the Fittest.” Litquake brings you this event in conjunction with Evolve 2009, a celebration of Charles Darwin’s two hundredth birthday and of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species.

Tonight's authors will be Cornelia Nixon, Chelsea Martin, Russell Hill, Sylvia Brownrigg, Kathryn Ma, and Lori Ostlund.

Since survival of the fittest is the topic, here are some Literary Darwinist thoughts of the day.

From Ian McEwan''s essay in The Literary Animal -- “If one reads accounts of the systematic non-instrusive observations of troops of bonobo -- bonobos and chimps rather than baboons are our closest relatives -- one sees rehearsed all the major themes of the English nineteenth century novel: alliances made and broken, individuals rising while others fall, plots hatched, revenge, gratitude, injured pride, successful and unsuccessful courtship, bereavement and mourning.”

And here's an essay by Jonathan Gottschall about how literary criticism can become more scientific. Gottschall is the author of a study that found “female characters in folktales were about six times more likely than their male counterparts to be described with a reference to their attractiveness. That six-to-one ratio held up in Western literature and also across scores of traditional societies.” In this essay he also claims to have scientifically disproved Roland Barthes's claim that the author is dead.

1 thought on “Survival of the Fittest”

  1. As an undergraduate I once had a linguistics professor who fed the whole of Anglo-Saxon lierature or vocabulary or something through a computer and came up with the conclusion that it was a desperate and violent age. It probably wasn't an easy task back then(the late 70's)the way computers were, (did they even have them?), but apparently there were a lot of terms for weaponry and death.
    If someone undertook the same even more suicidal task now for the contempory world they'd probably decide that the only creatures that survived were the ones that googled and twittered.

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